The cultural dimensions in the context of international business

When we approach foreign markets it is necessary to face culture as an important dimension of the entire internationalization process. This concept refers to the different levels comprised within each individual’s cultural identity. Thus, communication between different cultures is subjected to many variations, with countries/regions differing in more than culture, presenting differences in identity (language, religion), values (software of the mind), and institutions (rules, laws, visible organizations).  

If you are looking to expand your business into a new market, know that having knowledge of the language and cultural dimensions of the target market are enablers and promoters of business partnerships.

Cultural identity can complement intercultural communication, and according to Edward T. Hall, there are two layers to it: a superficial layer and a deeper one. The superficial layer concerns factors evident in a first contact with a different culture and includes aspects such as music, food, language, visual arts, celebrations, and so on. On the other hand, the deeper layer can be divided into two groups, where the first contains aspects that may be on the surface but hidden – non-verbal communication, display of emotions, concept of personal space, contextual behavior, etc. – and the second encompasses the core factors that define the culture – ideas about raising children, definitions of adulthood, family networks, pace of work, etc. All these aspects relate to intercultural communication, considering that in order to communicate effectively, you need to know, at a cultural level, the person you are communicating with.

The cultural iceberg


Hofstede Model: How can we compare cultures?

In turn, it is imperative to know how to compare cultures proficiently, in order to enhance intercultural communication. According to Hofstede, there are six cultural dimensions to be taken into account:

  • Power Distance: the degree to which the less powerful members of a society accept and expect power to be distributed unequally;
  • Individualism: the degree of interdependence that a society maintains among its members;
  • Masculinity: male cultures tend to show a preference in society for achievement, heroism, assertiveness, and material rewards for success. In comparison, female cultures value aspects such as cooperation, modesty, caring for the weak, and quality of life;
  • Uncertainty Avoidance: the degree to which members of a society are uncomfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity;
  • Long-term Orientation: cultures face challenges related to maintaining some connections to their own past while dealing with the challenges of the present and future;
  • Indulgence: the way in which people respond to their desires and impulses.

By looking at these six dimensions, it is possible to deepen knowledge about distinct cultures, helping to understand how culture impacts the way/ethics of work. Through the analysis of these dimensions, the Hofstede Model allows us to know what is the cultural distance between geographies and, consequently, guide our action in foreign markets. 


International Network

When approaching foreign markets it is necessary to have intercultural awareness, knowledge of business etiquette, customs, management styles, hierarchical organizations, since managers may encounter differences in their culture and natural systems. The network of local consultants of Market Access is essential in the internationalization projects of our customers, because it allows an effective and successful communication, avoiding errors and failures in communication in a business environment. 

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Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G. J. & Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and Organizations: software of the mind: intercultural cooperation and its importance for survival. Nova Iorque: McGraw-Hill.

Kostić-Bobanović, M., Novak, M., Bobanović, M. (2016). The Impact of Foreign Language Skills and Cultural Competencies on SMEs’ Success in International Markets. Management International Conference, 31-44.

Okoro, E. (2012). Cross-Cultural Etiquette and Communication in Global Business: Toward a Strategic Framework for Managing Corporate Expansion. International Journal of Business and Management, 7(16), 130-138. Doi: 10.5539/ijbm.v7n16p130

Réka Nikoletta Gadza. (2021, junho 18). How Culture Impacts Workplace Dynamics. Disponível em 

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